'I had no lumps, no bumps' - early breast cancer check saved woman's life

The new boss of a breast cancer charity says a routine check-up may have saved her life.

As figures reveal around a third of women aged over 45 are not accepting their invitation for a screening, Fiona Osmaston, chair of the Primrose Foundation at Derriford Hospital, spoke to ITV News West Country about her story.

"I was very blasé about it," she said. "I had no lumps, no bumps.

"A consultant did the ultrasound and she said 'I think it's cancer'. Which wasn't the diagnosis I came in for.

"You hear that cancer diagnosis and you think 'my world has ended'."

Fiona underwent a mastectomy and reconstruction Credit: Fiona Osmaston

Fiona underwent a mastectomy, a temporary breast implant and later reconstructive surgery. Thankfully she recovered, and today not only is she cancer free, but she is the new chair of the charity which gave her so much help and support.

"Five years ago I didn't even know the breast care clinic existed," she said. "But now I do, I want as many people as possible to know about it.

"If you've got a little niggle and you think something is just not right, please go and get it checked out. You will be in the best hands."

Between 2020 and 2021, just 61 per cent of women aged over 45 who were invited for a breast screening took up the offer - seven per cent down on the previous year.

This may be partially caused by Covid - but specialists say it's a long-term trend.

Dr Jim Steel says he is worried by the figures. Credit: ITV News

Dr Jim Steel, consultant radiologist, said: "It's one of my biggest worries, and it's bothered me my whole career. Roughly a third of women decided not to come for breast screening even though they have been invited."

With the launch of their new campaign 'Support Us to Support You' - and the start of breast cancer awareness month - staff at the Primrose Unit are hoping to spread the word that a screening is quick, easy and could even save your life.

Fundraising coordinator for The Primrose Foundation Madeleine Matthews said the team wants to encourage more people to come forward for their screening.

“This is a unique campaign over three years, and it could not be better timed, with the recent drop in people attending screening - even though we know how vital it is in providing early detection and diagnosis.

"The main aim, therefore, is to raise breast awareness and to encourage people to attend their breast screening. 

"We want to encourage new support from patients and local businesses, so that we can raise even more money for breast care services in our area.”

Consultant radiologist at University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust and director of breast screening Dr Karen Paisley hopes the campaign will encourage more to come forward when they are called for their routine checks.

"This is a really exciting opportunity to raise breast awareness and promote our breast screening service, especially as the uptake for breast screening across West Devon and East Cornwall has unfortunately gone down to 70% according to recent annual figures.

"I am extremely grateful to The Primrose Foundation for their great work in supporting The Primrose Breast Care Centre, our staff and consequently our patients,” she added.